The Son of Good Fortune

The Son of Good Fortune

I kept thinking of the lyrics, Creedence Clearwater Revival?

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate son, no no no

  • Produced by John Fogarty.

But that’s not The Son of Good Fortune. When I picked up the title, that song ran through my head.

Think this referral title was from a “New and notable” library list, or perhaps a bestseller of some sort. I don’t recall the recommendation, but deviating from what I had been reading felt good, and as a newly notable, the novel holds up well.

One bit of writing advice, and I haven’t been able to verify it, but the source was allegedly Hemingway, “Get a bunch of characters, put them in a situation together, see what happens.”

There’s always the motivation we can just let those created characters “Fight it all out,” and see who is left standing?

The voice of the story is young Filipino boy of indeterminate citizenship. His mother, so it seems catfishes and swindles her way along in the American dream. In as much as she’s been sold the American Dream, in turn she peddles the idea of love and obedient wives. Her son, of questionable nationality, is exploring what it is to be man, a person, and trying to live in the shadows along the West Coast.

There is a haunting third character, a deceased mentor, and his ghost is part of what propels this along. Or the memory of him and what he taught — he was a martial arts person, and the mom? She was a martial arts star, back in the Philippines. Think “B” movies, by current, American standards, and that’s the way I took it that it was painted.

With most of California now burning? Brings this novel sharply into focus, as the setting is split, as is the narrative, between two places, the Filipino (low-income) neighborhood, just south of San Fransisco, maybe in San Fransisco, like, next to the airport (SFO)? And the desert of Southern Cal, Joshua Tree, Burning Man? Something like that. The narrow confines of the South San Fransisco, though, it properly evokes the dense sense of desperation, and stillness, always chasing, that American Dream.

There’s a harsh, stark gentleness to the style, the way the tale is told and carefully woven together. Love, loss, and being a questionable immigrant in modern day America.

For me, it was a thoroughly enjoyable novel.

The Son of Good Fortune

The Son of Good Fortune

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